Speedway Scene with Shaleman

IT’S Saturday speedway again at Arlington – but with a twist. Tomorrow’s Elite League clash between Eastbourne and Swindon begins at 4pm.

And there’s a bonus for fans with a speedway and grasstrack boot fair in the car park from 1.30pm.

It all adds up to a full afternoon for early-bird supporters who, in most cases, should be able to make it home to watch the latest speedway grand prix on the television.

It’s a busy week for the Eagles: on Monday they were at Wolverhampton in the KO Cup, more on that in a moment; on Wednesday they rode at King’s Lynn and last night (Thursday) were at Birmingham.

These are vital times for Eastbourne as the race for a play in the end-of-season play-offs gets ever fiercer.

Last year it was the KO Cup which helped revive a flagging Eastbourne season and they went all the way to the cup final where they lost at the last over two legs against Poole.

And it is the Dorset side who will stand between the Eagles and another cup final.

At Wolves the Eagles secured a magnificent 45-45 draw, leaving the aggregate result at Eastbourne 95, Wolves 85.

After the first leg in June, team boss Trevor Geer declared himself happy with a ten-point lead and said he fully believed his team could get a result in the Midlands. His confidence was not misplaced.

Eastbourne went into the match without the injured Simon Gustafsson, who was “wiped out” on Sunday in the Under 21 final (first round) at Poole by a Russian rider who showed little inclination to turn left on the first corner.

Gustafsson suffered rib injuries and there were fears of more serious internal problems. He was due to return to his native Sweden this week for further treatment.

In the short-term it will be rider replacement to fill his rides, although if the absence is longer term a replacement will be sort to fill the gap until Gustafsson is fit.

Finding a rider at this stage of the season is difficult but made much worse when trying to find one who can take on the Eastbourne fixture list.

The draw at Wolverhampton was a super result as the team pulled together to overcome the problems. Just as Wolves sniffed the chance of overall victory, Eastbourne whacked in two 5-1 heat wins in the closing stages to ensure success and a date (again) with Poole.

Team work and team spirit has been the hallmark of this year’s Eastbourne side – long may it continue.

Saturday’s match is the second running of the fixture against Swindon. The first was washed out by a thunderstorm, with the Eagles well in charge. It, of course, marks a return to the Arlington track for former Eagle, Scott Nicholls.

Swindon are having a troubled season but have a new team manager is former rider and Danish national team manager Jan Steachmann.

He may inspire his new charges to put up more of a fight than they were doing when the first one fell victim to the weather.

The speedway and grasstrack boot fair will give people the chance to sell unwanted kit and for younger riders and amateurs the chance to pick up items at a good price. The fair is supported by a collectors’ fair.

Fans can also bring along their own speedway memorabilia for a free valuation by Nick Barber, who runs the track shop and speedway auctions.

Speedway merchandise and souvenirs will also be or sale. No charge is being made for people to have stands/stalls.

So, in summary: boot and collectors’ fairs, 1.30pm to 3.30pm; turnstiles open at 2.30pm, Eastbourne Eagles v Swindon Robins from 4pm.